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News Briefs

12/16/2022

Barilla Group Acquires Back to Nature Snack Brand

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Back to Nature Lower Sugar Granola

Barilla Group, known for its Italian heritage and brands, is expanding its portfolio with the acquisition of the Back to Nature line from B&G Foods, a branded foods holding company out of Parsippany, N.J. With this addition, the Parma, Italy-headquartered Barilla Group will now offer a variety of plant-based, non-GMO snacks to U.S. retailers, including cookies, granola, nuts and trail mix products.

According to the parent company, the acquisition aligns with Barilla's quest to build a strong multi-brand bakery platform in the U.S. “This operation reminds me of when we first started our journey with pasta over 25 years ago and we are now the market leader. The acquisition of Back to Nature is a key step for this exciting journey,” remarked Guido Barilla, chairman of the Barilla Group. “We focus all our business activities and products on health and indulgence and hence Back to Nature was a natural choice.”

[Read more: "100 Iconic Brands That Changed Grocery"]

The Back to Nature assortment fills out Barilla’s bakery business in North America. Among other items, the company currently offers the Wasa brand of crispbreads and a variety of European bakery products.

The Barilla Group is a fourth-generation family-owned business that distributes products to more than 100 countries. Its brands include Barilla, Mulino Bianco, Pan di Stelle, Gran Cereale, Harrys, Pavesi, Wasa, Filiz, Yemina and Vesta, Misko, Voiello, Academia Barilla, First, Catelli, Lancia, Splendor, Tolerant and Pasta Evangelists.

Meanwhile, B&G Foods will continue to operate its dozens of other brands, such as Cream of Wheat, Crisco, Green Giant, Ortega, Joan of Arc and SnackWell’s, among others. “Our decision to sell Back to Nature is part of a broader effort at B&G Foods to focus our portfolio on businesses that are core to our long-term strategy as we transition to a business unit structure,” explained Casey Keller, president and CEO. “The divestiture will also allow us to reduce long-term debt, while providing Barilla America with a great brand.”

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12/16/2022

Little Red Box Grocery Working to End Food Deserts in Houston

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Houston Map Teaser

Small-format community market Little Red Box Grocery, which is located in Houston’s underserved Second Ward, has teamed up with The Arena Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Woodlands, Texas-based Arena Energy LLC, an independent oil and gas exploration company focused on the Gulf of Mexico Shelf, to tackle the pervasive issue of food deserts. 

“We wanted to build a store for everyone,” explained Samuel Newman, who opened the 800-square-foot retail location this past May. “A true gathering spot for Second Ward residents, and a counterpoint to current neighborhood grocery offerings that are either inconvenient or offer high costs and poor choices, specifically when it comes to fresh produce and pantry essentials. Little Red Box is grateful to have this sustained and committed support from The Arena Foundation, which will help us offer more products to — and provide better service for — our customers and our community.” 

“The Little Red Box Grocery store is bringing healthy, affordable and convenient food to an area that has gone without for too long,” said Arena Foundation President Ben Pigati. “Arena’s roots in Houston run deep, and we are proud to support Little Red Box Grocery as they work to fight food deserts here in our hometown and beyond as they expand into future areas of need. Approximately 40 million Americans, including 5 million Texans, live in food deserts with little access to healthy food options. This must be addressed, and we are grateful the Little Red Box Grocery team is working towards a solution.” 

Last month marked the debut of Little Red Box Grocery’s online store and digital marketing program, powered by Grocerist, which offers an industry-specific solution built on e-commerce platform Shopify

12/16/2022

How Corner Stores Are Crucial in Underserved Communities

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SurgePays chart

The perception of neighborhood grocery stores as both a hub and heart of communities – especially underserved communities – was affirmed in a recent survey. According to insights from technology and telecommunications company SurgePays, Inc., an overwhelming 94% of consumers say that their local independent grocery, c-store or bodega is important to their friends and neighbors.

It's a fairly even split on the degree of importance. About a third (34%) of survey respondents said that nearby indie locations are very important, while another 34% said they are somewhat important and 26% said those retailers are extremely important.

[Read more: "Indies Make Food Insecurity Commitments"]

The results speak to the important role of local grocers in underserved neighborhoods. SurgePays, which provides mobile broadband to low-income consumers and works with corner stores to become tech hubs for underbanked areas, enlisted its survey firm to oversample for adults with a household income under $25,000 and without bank accounts or credit cards.

SurgePays’ survey also found that consumers in underbanked and underserved areas are twice as likely to go to a nearby c-store almost every day (14%) compared to the general population. More than a third take part in SNAP. As for what they are buying, the survey revealed that top categories are snack food (71%), coffee/beverages (50%) everyday foods and meals (48%), milk (47%) and lottery tickets (32%).

Shopping is a personal experience for those who frequent corner stores. The poll shows that 37% of customers who patronize nearby independently-owned or operated c-stores say they know the name of their favorite clerk or owner.

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12/16/2022

Amazon Tech Debuts at Kansas City Sports & Entertainment Venue

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816 Market T-Mobile Center Amazon Tech Teaser

Amazon Just Walk Out and Amazon One technology have rolled out in 816 Market, located at Section 105 on the main concourse of T-Mobile Center, a sports and live entertainment venue in Kansas City, Mo. The store enables customers to select snacks and beverages without waiting in line to checkout, and shoppers can enter the store and pay with a scan of their palm. Customers aged 21 or older may buy alcohol after showing valid ID to a store attendant for age verification.

“816 Market is the first frictionless store location in both a Missouri and Kansas sports and live entertainment venue to employ Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology and Amazon One,” noted Jay Cooper, general manager of T-Mobile Center. “Collaborating with Amazon and [Chicago-based restaurant and hospitality company] Levy to debut a faster concession experience through innovation is an incredible opportunity.” 

“T-Mobile Center has a rich history of hosting some of the most popular events in the U.S., like NCAA basketball tournaments, world-renowned musicians and top-performing artists,” said Dilip Kumar, VP, AWS Applications. “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with T-Mobile Center and Levy to enable an effortless shopping experience using Just Walk Out technology and Amazon One for guests so they can grab what they need and get back to their seats as fast as possible.”

An award-winning venue operated by Los Angeles-based ASM Global, T-Mobile Center has welcomed more than 12 million guests since opening in 2007. 

Last month, the Amazon technologies debuted at Bridgestone Arena – a first for a Nashville, Tenn., sports and entertainment venue – with another store powered by both frictionless shopping solutions slated to open at the same arena early next year. 

Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100,  Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

12/16/2022

Caribbean Conglomerate Buys U.S. Indie Grocery Chain

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IGA Sign Teaser

Massy Holdings, a Trinidad and Tobago-based conglomerate with diversified interests and businesses throughout the Caribbean, has acquired U.S. grocery store chain Rowe’s IGA Supermarket for $47 million. The acquisition was completed on Dec. 12 by Massy’s wholly owned subsidiary, Massy Stores (USA) LLC.

[Read more: "IGA Reveals USA Retailers of The Year"]

According to a notice posted on Massy’s website, “Massy Stores USA entered into a membership interest purchase agreement with the sole owner of Rowe’s IGA, Robert A Rowe, to purchase 100% of the equity interest of each of the seven limited-liability companies within the Rowe’s IGA Group.” 

The notice added: “The acquisition of Rowe’s IGA, an independent supermarket chain with seven stores in Jacksonville, Fla., is aligned with the Massy Integrated Retail Portfolio’s strategy to expand its retail footprint in the U.S. market. Rowe’s IGA was established in 2005 and is a well-recognized brand within the Jacksonville area.” 

12/16/2022

More Than Half of U.S. Consumers Plan to Be With Others for Holidays

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Festive Family Gathering Teaser

After two years of pandemic-driven lockdowns, consumers are eager to get back to holiday entertaining. A recent survey conducted by The NPD Group has found that 52% of consumers are less concerned about COVID-19 this year versus a year ago, up 20 points from 2021, and 55% said that they intend to host or visit family and or friends during the holidays, an eight-point increase from last year.

“After two years of dealing with pandemic concerns, consumers are anxious and excited to entertain and attend parties this holiday season,” noted Joe Dreochowski, home and home improvement industry advisor at NPD, a global market information company that merged with Chicago-based IRI last July. “As a result, they are increasingly looking to socialize, shop and gather with friends and family, which will naturally spur more retail growth opportunities during the holidays.”  

In the housewares category, the entertaining-related subcategories that usually experience a sales bump during the holiday season include barware tools and sets; bottle openers; coasters; corkscrews; ice buckets; pie/cake/brownie servers; tea tools; non-electric wine aerators; and wine tool sets. Alcohol-related beverageware shapes, such as wine glasses, highball glasses/tumblers, old-fashioned glasses, goblets, pilsner/pub, and martini glasses, are also in demand for holiday entertaining, and cheese/charcuterie boards, chip-and-dip servers, tiered serveware, and platter trays all unsurprisingly see sales increases ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“Traditionally, holiday parties are held the two weekends before Christmas,” added Derochowski. “This year, with Christmas falling on a Sunday and Hanukkah beginning on Dec. 18 and ending on Dec. 26, could mean more extended celebrations. Holiday guests may stay further into the next week, which means more opportunities for baking together, entertaining or preparing extra food to have leftovers.”